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Monday, July 15, 2024

The 10 Best-Selling Video Games of All Time

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Games have always existed in a numbers-obsessed industry. Sega vs. Nintendo defined a generation in the '90s, while today's comparatively mild console wars and monthly NPD reports keep sales figures near the forefront of games-related discussion. New monetization models require new metrics for success — monthly active users, player retention rates, in-game revenue, etc. — but one of the industry's biggest questions remains: What are the best-selling video games of all time?

To answer this question, we set out to compile the most accurate list possible by reaching out to publishers and digging through financial reports, news stories, interviews, and more. The result is the following list of the ten best-selling video games of all time.

Some notes up front:

  • Pack-in games are counted toward sales totals, considering most games on this list were, at one point, bundled with a console.
  • Free downloads are not counted as sales, which excludes massively successful games like Fortnite and League of Legends from a list like this.
  • Due to a lack of available sales data, we could not include certain games that may belong on this list. For example, we reached out to Activision-Blizzard seeking updated sales numbers for Diablo 3 (30 million units sold as of June 2015) and the Call of Duty franchise but did not receive updated information to include those games on this list.

10 Best Selling Video Games of All Time

10. Overwatch – 50 million

Blizzard’s hero shooter Overwatch sold 50 million copies, according to a Bloomberg report published in April 2022. Overwatch elevated the hero shooter genre with brilliant game design, thoughtfully crafted heroes, and continued esports support. In October of 2022, Overwatch was replaced by its free-to-play sequel, Overwatch 2.

9. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – 50 million+

The Witcher 3 was added to this list in May 2023 when CD Projekt Red announced its seminal RPG passed 50 million copies sold. Total sales for The Witcher series, meanwhile, sit at over 75 million.

The developer is now working on several games new Witcher games, including The Witcher 4 and a Witcher 1 remake.

8. Red Dead Redemption 2 – 50 million+

The most recently released game to earn a spot in the top ten is Red Dead Redemption 2. Rockstar’s western epic sold over 50 million copies by the end of 2022, according to publisher Take-Two’s latest financial report.

7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 60 million+

After years of silence regarding Skyrim's sales numbers, Bethesda's Todd Howard revealed in June 2023 that the RPG has sold over 60 million units since it was first released in 2011. "We’re sitting here, it’s 12 years after Skyrim," Howard told IGN. "We’re looking at a game that has over 60 million copies, and all these people playing… they’re still playing it."

Next up for Bethesda Game Studios is Starfield, its space-set RPG coming to Xbox and PC on September 6.

6. Mario Kart 8 + Deluxe – 62.25 million

With over 53 million copies sold as of March 31, 2023, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best-selling Switch game, according to Nintendo. Factor in sales of the original Wii U release and that total rises to over 62 million, good for the sixth-best-selling game of all time. MK8 is unlikely to rise any higher on this list given the 15-million-unit sales gap between it and the next-best-selling game.

5. PUBG – 75 million

Given its critical role in the rising popularity of battle royale games over the last five years, it’s unsurprising that PUBG has been such a massive sales success. Krafton creative director Dave Curd told The Verge it has sold 75 million copies of PUBG as of December 2021. That will likely be the shooter’s final sales tally, as it went free to play a month later in January 2022.

While free mobile downloads don't count toward its sales total, it's worth noting PUBG Mobile had been downloaded over 1 billion times as of March 2021.

4. Wii Sports – 82.9 million

According to Nintendo's official sales figures, Wii Sports is the company's best-selling game ever. While most entries on this list were bundled with a console at some point, Wii Sports was bundled with the Wii in nearly all territories at launch. At nearly 83 million copies sold, it’s the top-selling single-platform exclusive of all time.

3. Grand Theft Auto V – 175 million+

Grand Theft Auto 5 is the best-selling console/PC-only game of all time (the top two entries on this list have mobile versions, too). Sales of Rockstar’s most ambitious GTA yet have surpassed 170 million units as of September 30, 2022. That number compiles the game’s sales totals from across three console generations and PC between 2013 and 2022.

GTA 5 was the fastest entertainment release across all mediums to reach $1 billion — and it’s since earned Rockstar and Take-Two billions more, making it the most-profitable entertainment release ever, at least as of 2018.

2. Minecraft – 238 million

Minecraft had sold 238 million copies as of April 2021, according to Microsoft, though its sales total has certainly climbed higher in the year-plus since. The company notes that figure captures the sales total across its 22 available platforms. And with film, Netflix, education, toy, and many other projects either completed or in the works, Minecraft has transcended the medium in a way few others have before it.

We reached out to Microsoft for an updated sales total and didn’t receive a response.

1. Tetris – 520 million

Arguably the most timeless video game ever created, Tetris sits comfortably atop the list of all-time bestsellers with 520 million copies sold, according to The Tetris Company. That number includes sales across all available platforms, with the majority coming from mobile: Henk Rogers, The Tetris Company's managing director, said Tetris had 425 million paid mobile downloads as of 2014.

Tetris was initially released for the Soviet Union-developed Elektronika 60 computer, and variations of the classic puzzler have since been made for over 50 different platforms. Notably, it helped launch the Game Boy to success, eventually selling 35 million copies on Nintendo's handheld console.

Modern variations of the classic are still being released: Tetris Effect: Connected brought the puzzler to current-gen consoles with an emotional twist, while most recently, in 2020, SEGA released Puyo Puyo Tetris 2.

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